Do you like the taste of crispy and tart fermented vegetables? Do you want to know how to ferment vegetables at home?
It may seem intimidating at the beginning, but it is very easy to ferment vegetables. As easy as they are to prepare, they are rich in nutrients with probiotics and vitamins.
This article will walk you through various vegetable fermentation methods. Also, you will find information on the things you are supposed to know to make your own delicious fermented vegetables without failing.
Fermented vegetables can make a great snack or be added to other dishes for a flavorful burst. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s learn more about fermenting veggies and their benefits.
What Is Fermentation Of Food?
Fermentation is a way of food preservation that was very common in ancient times. In this process, microorganisms like bacteria and yeast convert sugar or starch into acids or alcohol. This can be done using salt brine or starter culture.
It is used even today to make wine, sauerkraut, cheese, kombucha, and yogurt. Usually, fermenting vegetables at home is done with the help of a process known as Lacto fermentation.
1. Lacto Fermentation
This is a method used to preserve food which also enhances the nutrient level in the food. In this process, it stops the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause rotting of the food as well as food poisoning.
It enriches the growth of probiotics that can enhance the vitamin levels and enzymes that are responsible for digestibility.
Lactobacilli produces anti-carcinogenic and antibiotic components. Lactic acid is a by-product of this process, which helps keep the food in a state of preservation. Also, it can promote the taste of a tangy flavor.
Lactobacillus are naturally occurring ‘good’ bacteria found in vegetables and fruits. This is the bacteria responsible for Lacto fermentation.
When the foods are placed in an environment free of oxygen, these bacteria convert the sugar into lactic acid. This acid is responsible for the sour flavor of fermented foods.
3. Brine Solution
Brine is a highly concentrated solution of common salt dissolved in water. You can put the cut vegetables or meat in the brine solution to make it juicier and fermentation.
You can prepare brine at home easily. All you will need is a tablespoon, a vessel for mixing, salt, and water.
You will have to add four tablespoons in four cups (one quart) of water. This ratio will ensure the salt and water ratio is perfect for fermentation.
A Step By Step Guide To Ferment Vegetables At Home
Fermenting vegetables is one of the easiest ways to prevent food waste and help our environment. Consuming foods that are fermented improves gut health and builds immune in your system. Also, it is a very easy process, as you will see as you read ahead.
Step 1: Pick The Equipment
Fermenting vegetables at home do not require any specialized equipment. However, using a piece of appropriate fermentation equipment will ensure that you can ferment your food well.
You will have to pick everything carefully, from kitchen knives to the suitable fermentation vessel. Some of the best vessels are mason jars and other similar tight lid jars.
Step 2: Prepare Vegetables For Fermenting
You can prepare your vegetables in numerous ways for fermenting. You can grate, shred, chop, slice, or leave them whole.
- Grate- Grating works for veggies that are crunchy or hard. Once fermented, these vegetables have a texture that can be relished.
- Shred- You can shred vegetables such as carrots, radish, and cabbage. They will taste excellent as shredded fermented vegetables.
- Chop- You can chop almost all types of vegetables for fermentation. Also, you can chop them into whatever size you want to, although small bite-sized pieces can taste the best.
- Slice- You can slice vegetables that are firm and soft. This way, you can preserve their shapes throughout the fermentation process. Jalapenos and cucumber work great when sliced.
- Whole- Vegetables can be left whole for fermentation if they are small. This includes Brussel sprouts, green beans, small cucumbers, and garlic.
Step 3: Add salt, Whey, Or Starter Culture
All you need for Lacto fermentation is the brine solution. You can replace it with whey or starter culture as well.
Ensure to choose the salt appropriate for the culturing. It can be sea salt or kosher salt. Although sea salt is the best option for this, using kosher salt or any other salt will result.
You can also use a vegetable starter culture to attain a faster fermentation rate. However, it is not essential.
Step 4: Submerge The Vegetables
Prepare enough brine to submerge all the vegetables you have prepared completely. You will need about two to three percent brine for your vegetables.
Also, remember to use only filter water. The water and the fermentation vessel should be free of chlorine, fluoride, and chloramines. This is because these components kill the essential microbes that are necessary for a healthy ferment.
Step 5: Weigh The Vegetables Down Under The Salt Brine
Place the vegetables in a mason jar or any of your chosen fermentation vessels. Once they are inside, weigh them down under the salt brine thoroughly.
This will ensure that they are in an anaerobic environment until the end of the processing period. You can ensure they weigh properly by using small glass weights or ceramic plates in your mason jar.
Alternatively, you can purchase a fermentation vessel that has fermentation crocks that has a weight attached to it. This can make the entire process of weighing down easy.
Step 6: Leave Them At Room Temperature
You should leave your fermentation vessel at room temperature for some time. The time depends on various factors that include the quantity of the salt, temperature, and the type of vegetable. Generally, the time to leave the vegetables will be three to four days.
Step 7: Move It For Cold Storage
You can taste it after the recommended period and if you are satisfied with the taste. You can move it for cold storage. They can stay fresh for months in the fridge.
Step 8: Trouble Shooting
Every batch of fermented vegetables may end up differently. Hence, you need to ensure they are going through the culturing process without any trouble.
You will have to be more careful, especially if you are a beginner at the culturing processes. Make sure not to let any yeast or mold grow on top. You can keep the jar in a plastic bag for additional safety.
Benefits Of Eating Fermented Vegetables
At this point, you are aware of the probiotic content in fermented vegetables. They enhance the growth of beneficial enzymes and bacteria that enriches the nutrient content. Here are some of the benefits of eating fermented vegetables.
1. Nutrient Content
Salt fermentation can enhance the availability of vitamins, minerals, and probiotics. They help in absorbing these nutrients.
Also, they boost the good bacteria present in your gut. They help in the synthesis of vitamins as well.
Fermenting vegetables breaks down the starches and sugars in the vegetables. A fermented vegetable is easier to digest than something that is not fermented. They also have more water content.
Additionally, it contains potassium, vitamins C and K, phosphorus, and calcium to enhance digestion.
Our gut houses a significant amount of immune agents of our system. Lacto fermented vegetables can improve the conditions of the gut lining. Hence, they can improve your immune system.
Also, the gut is responsible for our mood and behavior. The human gut is lined with neurons that can affect our feelings and emotions; probiotics can maintain a healthy gut.
Hence, you will feel better overall if you eat any fermented vegetables you like regularly.
Best Vegetables For Fermenting
Here’s a small list of vegetables that do not taste best when Lacto fermented; they are also very easy to prepare!
- Cabbage– Cabbages can be easily fermented. A cabbage leaf can be shredded, sliced, or grated. With little extra water, they make excellent vegetable recipes.
- Carrots– Carrots can be fermented easily if you grate them or chop them into tiny pieces. They can also be sliced and fermented like pickles.
- Radishes– They taste best when grated or chopped as an extra with other ferments. Also, radish ferment tastes very tangy and spicy.
- Snap beans– These are easy-to-grow vegetables that are widely available during spring. They come in various colors, and some of them are green, yellow, and purple. Also, they retain their beautiful colors after fermenting.
- Beets– They have high sugar content. Hence they can be quite difficult to ferment. You can add spices to make the process easier.
- Cucumbers– Pickling cucumbers are an iconic method. They have high water content, and you can add vinegar to make them taste tangier.
- Cauliflower– They make an excellent ferment, and they will look good in your jar if you add colors. You can add turmeric or little pieces of beet along with them.
- Garlic– They are perfect for your gut. Also, they can be added an extra to other vegetable yields.
- Pepper– There are numerous types of peppers you can ferment. Some of them are bell peppers and jalapenos. You can also add red pepper flakes for a spicy touch.
- Onions– Onions like garlic make an excellent company for other ferments. You can slice them into rings to make your jar look beautiful.
Guidelines To Get Fermented Vegetable At Home
Things can go wrong while following the above-mentioned steps. So, here are some guidelines for fermenting vegetables successfully.
- Always use only fresh vegetables and avoid vegetables that have any worms or holes in them.
- Remember to pick and select the vegetables and vegetable recipes carefully. Make a choice depending on the specific vegetable you are picking. Also, pick all the necessary things such as jars and salt for the specific vegetable.
- One of the vital things while fermenting anything is the salt and water content. Always ensure you have got the brine solution right.
Fermenting veggies is an excellent way to reduce food waste. Moreover, you can save money too!
Hopefully, this article was helpful to you, and now you are on your way to pick up the jars and salt water.
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.